Mumbai: Plumber, two labourers die while trying to clean septic tank in Govandi

Updated: Dec 24, 2019, 12:06 IST | Anurag Kamble | Mumbai

Despite it being illegal, the three were called to manually clean tank by Govandi residents.

The tank that the three men went into and never came out alive
The tank that the three men went into and never came out alive

Three labourers died after inhaling poisonous gases while cleaning a septic tank in Govandi on Monday morning. The Govandi police arrested the building's committee treasurer Pawan Palav, 40, under section 304A (causing death by negligence) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Committee members of Morya CHS, in Ganeshwadi, Govandi Eeast had told Biswajit Devnath, 30, a plumber to bring some helpers to clean the choked septic tank located at the entrance of the building. Biswajit brought two people with him on Monday morning.

Around 11.30 am, one of the labourers went inside the tank after leaving the lid open for 10 minutes. "When the other labourer called out to him, there was no response. When the second labourer went inside to check, he, too, got stuck. When both remained unresponsive, Biswajit went down himself to check," an officer from Govandi police station said. Ram Shivaji Gaikwad, the security guard at the building, soon realised that all three men were missing. He immediately informed the residents, who alerted the Govandi police station, which is 100 metres from the building. "We immediately called the Fire Bridge. The bodies had to be fished out with hooks and sticks," said a police officer. Apart from Biswajit, the other two men have been identified as Govind Choritia, 34, and Santosh Kalsekar, 45, both residents of Kurla.

"As per standard practice, the lid of a septic tank must be kept open for at least three to four hours before anyone goes into in," said Sudeep Pal, a resident and former merchant Navy sailor. "I knew Biswajit personally, and saw him come to the building this morning. But, barely 20 minutes later, I heard a hue and cry downstairs, only to be told that Biswajit and two others had not come out of the manhole for a long time," he added. "The three were rushed to Shatabdi Hospital where doctors declared them dead on arrival," said Balasaheb Kedare, senior inspector of Govandi Police station.

Manual scavenging illegal

In 2014, a Supreme Court judgment prohibited anyone from working in sewers and septic tanks. As per central government rules, it is permitted only in case of emergency after putting on adequate safety gear.

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